keeping it one hundred

amidst the culture shock of new faces, new roles, and new terminology, i’m also learning (or re-learning from my days long ago working in a group home) some new phrases from what i guess you could call hip hop culture. examples: “acting a fool” which means pretty much what it sounds like, and “posting,” slang for going #2. never heard that one before! another one, used frequently by my supervisor jameela, is “let’s just keep it one hundred,” followed by words that are tough to hear but certainly needed. i’ve been thinking of my own little collection of topics. some of what i have to say may not be comfortable, but let’s keep it one hundred and say what needs to be said.

youth group games should not be competitive.

…at least not in the traditional ways that favor the athletic, coordinated, or smart. it’s frustrating  to a kid who’s smaller or less savvy when the ones who get attention everywhere else continue to dominate at youth group. it takes a bit more effort to keep things fresh and noncompetitive, but it’s absolutely worth it and necessary. if there’s a “secret” to the game, you should not play it again until the current group has moved through.

let’s keep it one hundred. why do we play games in the first place? to kill/fill time? to burn off energy so they’ll pay better attention? to rile them up so they can’t? (we’ve ratcheted down our games quite a bit for exactly that reason.) or is there perhaps a higher road to travel, on which games are planned carefully and with purpose, keeping in high regard the needs of all individuals as well as the integrity and wholeness of your entire group.

in matthew 16:18, Jesus did not ordain the Christian school. or the church youth group.

it sometimes frustrates me when kids that attend our church, and also attend a Christian school, are often way more involved in their school’s activities – even on wednesday nights – than in our church’s youth program. i think to myself, these kids already spend all day together. why do they need to do youth group at their school too?

it’s the local church that is the heartthrob of our Savior. not the age-segregated youth group.

then i recall that it’s the local church that is the heartthrob of our Savior. not the age-segregated youth group. age-targeted programs have an important place in a family’s overall tapestry of opportunities for involvement. if the family chooses to make the investment to send their child to a private school, it is the school’s responsibility to wisely walk alongside the parents in the sacred call of raising children to be godly. the exact same is true, however, for those of us in church youth ministry.

what concerns me is when anything but the local church as an entity, not its segmented ministries, is given too much priority. does that mean that you need to send a kid to his own church youth group instead of whatever is offered at the Christian school? sometimes, yes. but it also may mean that you spend a wednesday night together as a family sometimes, instead of yet another night when everyone is shuttled off to their silos. just keeping it one hundred.

middle school boys stink. make them shower.

it’s become part of my orientation ritual at camps and retreats. i tell the boys they need to shower. every day. and put on deodorant. period.

axe body spray does not make you smell better, it only makes you smell more.

axe body spray does not count. it does not make you smell better, it only makes you smell more. and going swimming does not count as a shower either, especially if it’s in lake water. the fish have peed and pooped in that water!

a shower is defined as removing one’s clothes (yes, all of them), running warm water all over your body, and using soap in the folds and crevices of you body where you stink.

we are fortunate in our accommodations at youthfront camp (for summer camp as well as fall retreat) to have private camper showers. we also tend to stay in hotel rooms on our winter retreat. until this summer, though, showers on the summer mission trip were held most often at a college or high school locker room near the church where we would stay. group showers for 7th and 8th grade students haven’t been required at school for quite some time at school, so we tell our kids to bring a swimsuit for privacy if they wish.

tangent time. when i was in middle school, we took showers as a group, butt naked. every day. we may not have liked it, but we complied. i even recall once a coach made a kid who was misbehaving do pushups before being able to leave the shower area. that was probably crossing lines even in the 80s, but nobody thought anything of it then. the point is, in the last 20-30 years, required school showers have virtually disappeared from the middle school and even high school experience, except for some sports teams here and there. the rare cases where showers are regularly taken are often done wearing compression shorts, or if the boys actually disrobe completely, they will also likely do the bizarre quick-change known as the “towel dance.” i would even say it’s likely that the disappearance of required showers at school has contributed in some degree to the epidemic of childhood obesity.

follow the logic: students are no longer required to shower, so they don’t. they simply change back into their school clothes, perhaps with a splash of water to their hair and definitely caking on more deodorant. but then their teachers start to complain because they smell. what do p.e. teachers do? certainly not go back to requiring showers! that opens the door to allegations, lawsuits, not to mention the added cost (formerly an accepted line item) of laundering towels for the kids. no, instead they simply make p.e. less strenuous. if they don’t sweat as much, they don’t stink as much.

but let’s keep it one hundred. they still stink. and in the process, many kids no longer get even a modicum of physical activity sufficient to keep them healthy.

bottom line: kids, especially boys, need to practice good hygiene. allowances will be made for times being what they are. (another tangent for another day – since when since nudity in the presence of others of the same gender become so creepy?) but to let a kid go all weekend, or all week or month at camp, without requiring they take a full-body shower is nothing short of neglect. ew. just ew.

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About andrew burden

andrew blogs about being a volunteer youth leader, teacher, video editor, husband, friend, child of God
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